Praise Awaits

I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of
Midian in anguish.

Were you angry with the rivers, O LORD ? Was your wrath
against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode with your
horses and your victorious chariots?

You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. Selah

You split the earth with rivers; the mountains saw you and
writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on
high.

Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your
flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear.

In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you
threshed the nations.

You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed
one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from
head to foot. Selah

With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors
stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who
were in hiding.

You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great
waters.

The ten verses in this section of Habakkuk’s prayer
re-emphasize God’s glory and majesty. The Lord is worthy to be praised. It is a
good thing to praise God. There’s no greater time than the present to praise
Him because:

  1. it gives us perspective on who He is and what He has done
  2. it reminds us of our role in relation to Him (potter/clay, master/servant, Father/children)
  3. if we don’t, He could ask a few rocks to do the same (Luke 19:40)
  4. it acknowledges that it’s not really about us as much as we hate to admit it
  5. it peels away our subtle pride of desiring to be in control
  6. He's worthy.

Certainly life would go on if we didn’t stop to praise God. But we’d miss out in a big way if we didn’t.

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A Glimpse

God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal. Habakkuk 3:3-5

(FYI: According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Teman was originally the name of a tribe and then of a district of the Edomites. The Temanites were famed for their wisdom. And Moses repeated the Law to the Israelites "between Paran and Tophel" (Deuteronomy 1:1). Teman speaks to his Wisdom, and Paran speaks to his glory.)

Everything about these verses acknowledge the awe and inspiration of an Almighty God. Nothing we can fathom compares. Habakkuk speaks in terms that he understood. For instance:

  • How do you describe the nuances and color splashes of a sunrise or a sunset to someone who is not there with you?
  • How do you describe the Northern Lights to someone who has never seen snow or experienced zero degrees temperatures?
  • How can you comprehend a million galaxies when the Milky Way is beyond our current understanding? 
  • How is it possible to count the thoughts that God has about you (Ps. 139:17)?

Answer: you can't.

We get but a glimpse of God's power and majesty. For now.

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Jonah or Habakkuk?

LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2b

This is an interesting and overlook-able four words right in the midst of Habakkuk‘s prayer to God. First he praises God for his awesome deeds, asks Him to make those deeds known, then he takes a twist and asks God to have mercy when He’s doling out His wrath. It’s almost as if Habakkuk’s saying, “go easy on those who can’t really see your awesome deeds!”

Contrast this with another prophet, Jonah. After Jonah preached to Nineveh, he sulked because he knew that God would spare Nineveh if they repented. And God did spare Nineveh (one instance of Habakkuk’s prayer being answered).

I find that I fall into Jonah’s camp of desiring God to completely destroy civilizations much more often than Habakkuk’s view that God should exercise mercy when He’s angry. It’s a tension we need to experience occasionally to keep our emotions and thoughts in check. It probably wouldn’t hurt us to err on the side of mercy.

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Go God. Do it again!

LORD, I have
heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our
day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
Habakkuk 3:2

A number of years ago I saw a simple Ziggy cartoon. Ziggy was on a cliff watching a brilliant sunrise and said, “Go God! Do it again.” In childlike faith, the cartoon character expressed what we often want to say.

God, you are awesome!” This is the essence of Habakkuk‘s prayer. Like Ziggy,
Habakkuk is saying, “you did it before, there’s no reason why you can’t or
won’t do it again.”

Praising God like this seems like such a simple thing to do, but it’s a subtle
acknowledgment that we aren’t in control. And that’s not always easy because
we like to be in control. The more we acknowledge that we aren’t in control,
the better it will go for us.

Go, God. Do it again!

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Let the Earth Be Silent

You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.

The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

“Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.

Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.

But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” Habakkuk 2:16-20

The Lord continues his response to Habakkuk about how He would deal with Babylon because of her atrocities, and “it ain’t pretty!” He mocks wood and stone in verse 18. Today he could substitute green paper called “money”, and it would have the same effect. Money would give the same answers, which is to say, none at all.

There is nothing hidden from God’s sight (Hebrews 4:13). We know that. We’ve probably memorized the entire verse, but the worries and cares of life crowd us and we forget.

  • We forget that when we glance at the sun rising in the morning that Creator God caused it to happen.
  • We forget that every amount of injustice caused by others is seen and noted.
  • We forget that some of the most miserable and unhappy people in the world are the people who have fame, fortune, and looks in their favor (e.g., Hollywood).
  • We forget that God is continually trying to draw us unto Himself.
  • And lastly we forget that God will silence those who have opposed Him and mocked Him and spat upon His name.

Today, take a few minutes to be silent before the God of the Universe.

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